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 Home > News & Policies > September 2001

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 6, 2001

Presidents Bush, Fox Conclude State Visit en Español
Remarks by President Bush and President Vicente Fox of Mexico to University of Toledo Faculty, Students and Community Groups
Savage Hall
University of Toledo
Toledo, Ohio

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3:31 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you all very much. Governor, thank you very much. It's a great honor to be back in Ohio. Today, I come bringing a special visitor, un amigo de mio y tambien un amigo de los Estados Unidos. (Applause.) It's an honor to bring a good friend of mine and a friend of our country, President Vicente Fox, to Ohio. I have the honor of introducing him. But before I do so, I wanted to introduce him to Ohio.

After a short press conference on the South Lawn, Presidents Bush and Fox board Marine One to visit Toledo, Ohio, Sept. 6. White House Photo by Paul Morse. Mr. President, Ohio is an extraordinary state. It's a state full of decent and compassionate and hard-working people. (Applause.) Not all the wisdom exists in Washington, D.C. (Applause.) There's a lot of wisdom in towns like Toledo, Ohio. And it was my honor that the President had accepted not only the invitation for the first state dinner I had as your President, but agreed to travel with me to the heartland. So I want to thank you all for a warm welcome. (Applause.)

I want to thank so very much the leadership of the University of Toledo and the students who are here, the faculty that have made this event possible. Thank you for your hospitality. Mr. Mayor, thank you for your hospitality, as well. It's a thrill to be traveling with members of the United States congressional delegation, some of whom do what I tell them to do -- (laughter and applause) -- some of whom are a little hard to persuade, but all of whom love America. (Applause.) And all of whom bring honor to the office they hold. Thank you all very much for coming with me today. (Applause.)

I'm very proud to be traveling with one of my Cabinet Secretaries, a man who is doing a fabulous job at HUD. His name is Mel Martinez. When he was a young boy, his mother and daddy put him on a boat -- I guess it was an airplane -- to come to America from Cuba. They weren't ever sure whether they would see him again. They were sure, however, they were sending him to a place that loved freedom, a place where you can be anything you want to be in America. Today, this good man is in the Cabinet. It shows what a wonderful country we have and shows what a great man Mel Martinez is. Thank you for coming, Mel. (Applause.)

We've got distinguished members from the Mexican delegation traveling with us. We've got ambassadors traveling with us. And we've even got the Treasurer of the United States traveling with us. My friend, Rosario Marin, is now the Treasurer of this great country. Please welcome her and all of the members of the Mexican delegation, as well. (Applause.)

We just had a really good visit in Washington. It was a commitment to friendship. It's important for my fellow Americans to understand my foreign policy, and it starts with this: Good foreign policy says you want your neighborhood to be peaceful and prosperous. A good foreign policy starts with being friends with your neighbors. We're friends with our neighbors to the North, and we're very good friends with our neighbors to the South, the Mexicanos. (Applause.)

Friends hold each other with respect, treat each other with respect and hold each other in high esteem. And the speaker I'm going to introduce is a man I hold in high esteem. Friends are willing to have honest dialogue. And we've had a series of honest dialogues over the last 24 hours, had a frank discussion.

But this isn't our first discussion; we've been discussing common opportunities and common problems for months. And as a result, our relationship has never been better and never been stronger.

I know there are some in this world and our country who want to build walls between Mexico and the United States. I want to remind people, fearful people build walls. Confident people tear them down. And I'm confident that a strong relationship -- (applause) -- and I'm confident that good neighbors and a strong relationship is in our nation's best interests. I've seen it firsthand -- trade between Mexico and the United States has grown to a quarter of a trillion dollars. That means jobs in the United States and as importantly, that means jobs in Mexico.

There's a lot of discussion about trade. I can't tell you how hopeful trade is and how important it is. It's not only important for job-seeking Americans, it's incredibly important for Mexico to grow and to prosper, to develop a middle class for people in Mexico to be able to find work close to home.

Oh, I know there's a lot of talk about Mexican laborers coming to the United States. But I want to remind my fellow citizens of this fact: Family values do not stop at the Rio Bravo. There are mothers and dads in Mexico who love their children just as much as mothers and dads in America do. And if there are a mother or dad who can't find work, worried about food on the table, they're going to come and find work in America.

And what we want to do is to have a trading relationship that encourages job creation in America, but job creation in Mexico, as well. We want Mexico to grow a middle class so the citizens of Mexico can find work to feed their families just like the citizens of America can find work to feed their families. (Applause.) We're talking about migration issues. It's a complex subject, but one that this country of ours must confront and have an open dialogue about. And we've made good progress on that important issue.

I want to tell you, President Fox is doing everything in his power to fight crime and drugs; and we're cooperating with him. But I also want to remind my fellow Americans it's important to fight the supply of drugs. But we have an obligation inside this country to fight to reduce the demand for drugs, as well. We need to tell our children, don't use drugs. Make the right choices in life. (Applause.)

We're working hard on environmental issues on our border. But our fellow citizens must understand that there's more than just economics that is important, or crime-fighting that's important in our relationship with Mexico.

We share values with Mexico. They're common values -- values that unite people, whether they live in the United States or whether they live in Mexico. And what are those values? Faith. The strong value of faith exists in our country. As a matter of fact, I think it's the strength of America in many ways, and it exists in Mexico as well. The love of family. It's incredibly important for the future of our country. It's a strong value in the Mexican culture.

The willingness to work hard. America is known for our ability to work hard. Think about the Mexican worker who walks 500 miles across a desert to find work. Those are hard-working citizens. We share that very important value of people willing to roll up their sleeves and work hard. No, we've got incredibly important relationship. It starts with leaders being willing to have open dialogue.

We've got something in common, by the way, that you probably haven't thought about. President Fox's grandfather was raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. My grandfather was raised in Columbus, Ohio. (Applause.) I guess you could kind of say we're Ohioans. (Applause.) Except it's kind of hard to tell by our accents. (Laughter.)

Not only do we share background, we share love for our respective countries. The first trip I took to foreign soil was to Guanajuato, Mexico, to visit President Fox on his ranch. By the way, I kind of like going to mine on occasion, too. And this is a man deeply committed to his country. He loves the people of Mexico. And I hope by now there's no question that I love the people of America, as well. (Applause.)

President Fox and I share the desire to do what we think is right for our countries. I think both of us are tired of the policy driven by polls and focus groups. I don't need a poll and focus group to tell me what to think and where to go, and neither does he. (Applause.) We both are doing in office what we said we would do. I told the people, by the way, that if they gave me the chance to be the president, the first thing I would do is remember whose taxpayers' money we're talking about when we're talking about budgets. The tax money up in Washington, that's not the government's money, it is the people's money, and I'm proud to report we've got the largest tax relief package in a generation. (Applause.)

We both are dedicated to educating -- to making sure our children are educated. President Fox shares the same passion I do about good schools and good quality education. He knows what I know -- that an educated child is one much more likely to be able to realize the dreams of our respective countries. That's why I'm hopeful Congress will quit talking about an education bill, get one out of conference committee, so I can sign a good reform package to make sure public education fulfills the promise of our schools. (Applause.)

One of the things in Texas we like to say -- here's a good man. I hope that sums up how I feel about our speaker and guest. This guy is a good man, un buen hombre.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome el Presidente de Republicano de Mexico, Vicente Fox. (Applause.)

PRESIDENT FOX: My friend, George Bush, is making things very tough for me. He's a great friend of Mexico. He's a great friend to Mexicans in the United States. He is a great friend for truth, work, commitment and the passion for the art of government. (Applause.)

Each day, I gain more and more respect for his leadership, for his vision, for his hard work. Each day, I gain a better understanding between us, and there is more agreement between us. And for that reason, I daily thank him for his friendship and for this friend who works for his people. (Applause.)

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, I can feel right here the enthusiasm, the warm welcome, which you generously are giving to us. Your welcome has moved me, and I'm convinced once again that no matter where fate may lead us, we Mexican men and women continue, united, through bonds that are extremely strong. (Applause.)

It is a great pleasure to be here in this university, accompanied by President George Bush, Governor Taft, who have honored Mexico in having me come up as first foreign head of a state to visit the United States during this administration. And I also wish to thank for the invitation to come to Ohio, because I feel among friends -- me siento entre amigos. (Applause.)

I had the privilege of dialoguing and speaking with President Bush in the last 24 hours, and this morning I had the honor to address the United States Congress. In both, I have exposed our firm conviction that trust shall be the foundation of our relationship; that trust will be the cornerstone of increasing the relationship between the United States and Mexico; and that, based on trust, we can work better for solving with efficiency, with talent, our mutual challenges that we face on this 21st century. (Applause.)

Today, I want to tell you that in Mexico, we do not ever forget our beloved countrymen. Not only do we not forget them, but we also recognize with pride that we have learned so much from you -- from your courage, your determination, your perseverance and your valor. And I want to tell you not only that we love you and respect you, that we need you back in Mexico, that we will be working to welcome all of you back in Mexico to promote the growth about a great nation and to work together to construct a better future for our country. (Applause.)

I know of the trying experiences that have been of our beloved countrymen and women, and I have heard exemplary stories of men and women who inspire us deeply. And we are proud of them.

We are going to visit the Aurora Gonzales Community Center, which will allow us to know more about the life of an untiring defender of community solidarity here in Toledo. We've also heard of the work of so many other members of this community who, with great generosity, find time to help those who need support, guidance, or simply a word of encouragement.

How many stories could be told of the lives of so many Mexican men and women who, one day, decided to leave their country, to come here seeking new opportunities in this great nation. How many stories of hard work and of sacrifice. One of these is the story of Rosario Marin, an exemplary Mexican who came to this nation at the age of 14 and who recently was appointed Treasurer of the United States of America. (Applause.) We are proud of her efforts and her success, as well as we are proud of all Mexican women that work day by day in this country, and that contribute to its greatness and to its success. (Applause.)

This land of opportunity, the United States, has always kept its door open to countless immigrants from all over the world, remaining true to its founding principles. Let me quote President Bush's remarks, who recently said that "the United States has traditionally been a welcoming society, where immigration is not a problem to be solved, but a sign of our confident and successful nation. History supports that assertion, because more importantly, we see the proof of that in the innumerable contributions that migrants have made over the last two centuries to the rich and varied American culture." (Applause.)

Today, we're not only neighbors, we're not only friends, we are partners through the commitment we signed with NAFTA. We are partners to work together, building a better future for both of our nations. NAFTA has been successful. It has created jobs in Mexico. It has created jobs in the United States. (Applause.)

Today, as a consequence of NAFTA, the trade balance between the United States and Mexico, as was mentioned by President Bush, has reached $250 billion U.S. But the most important part of it is that we buy and sell, and that today, Mexico is buying products and services from the United States more than France, Italy, Spain, and Germany are doing together. That is being partners. (Applause.) That is creating jobs.

It is a time for commitment and hard work. Let us not pass lightly over the countless sorrows and exemplary efforts of so many men and women that we call migrants. We must find the resolve, the necessary act, and act quickly so that we can find shared solutions to these common problems.

We have had two great days here in the United States. We are honored and we are totally satisfied with the conversations we have had, with the decisions we have taken. No doubt that, together, we're building a better future for both of our nations. (Applause.)

In the field of migration, or in drug trafficking and combatting organized crime, where we have been rendering extraordinary results, we have extradited criminals that the U.S. justice has been after more than whatever was done in past years.

With this trust and cooperation, we are gaining the battle against organized crime and drugs, and same, as well, we've done on the subject of economic development on building of opportunities. Mexico today, on the border states and the border cities, has unemployment rates of one percent. And we want to make that true and happen on the center and the south of Mexico. (Applause.)

We know and understand very well our commitment, our obligations, which are to make sure that every family, that every person within Mexico, has the opportunity of a decent job with income that is enough for living with dignity; that it is our obligation to make sure that every single kid and young person in Mexico has the opportunity to go to intermediate school or to university. This is why we have created a scholarship system through which every single kid in Mexico has the guarantee to comply with his personal project of education. Up to university level he has the guarantee of that scholarship if his problem is the lack of enough economic resources. (Applause.)

Every kid that takes this opportunity of going to school and university in Mexico, certainly will stay there with his family. It will not become a migrant.

So, dear friends, amigas y amigos, we face a challenge that may seem formidable. But so is our determination to overcome our differences and reach common ground and attain a common purpose. This is a unique time in our history. I feel privileged to belong to this age and to be able to play an active role in building a new partnership between Mexico and the United States. (Applause.) We are at the dawn of a new century, full of possibilities and new horizons. This can be the century of the major accomplishments for our two nations. This 21st century is the century of the Americas, and, of course, the century of North America. And we know -- and I want to address -- Mexican communities in the United States will have our support.

I came here to Toledo, Ohio, first because I had this invitation from President Bush, but also because I wanted to meet with our own people. And I wanted to tell my paisanos in this part of the United States that my friend, President Bush, and myself will work not only for your cause, but also for the cause of the United States and the cause of Mexico. (Applause.)

I return home very motivated for the way we have been received, for the way we have been listened, and for the much accomplishments -- the many accomplishments that we have had in these few hours that we have been here in the United States. More than ever, we have the conviction that working together, having trust of our philosophy, there is no limit to what we can do. And that is well-expressed here in the United States.

This, the largest economy in the world, this, the most powerful nation, has been able to reach its high objectives because of the work, because of the passion, because of the intense sacrifice that many, many millions of people do every day to make this nation great and big.

For us in Mexico, today we know that we have friends, that we have a partner, and that we have a better future for us and for our people.

Thank you very much to all of you, and God bless you. (Applause.)

END 4:05 P.M. EDT